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Common rabbit diseases

Domestic rabbits are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases: parasitic, bacterial and viral. An overview of the commoner infections may be found in Table Wild rabbits are host to a variety of parasites that can be transmitted to domestic rabbits.

The type and species of parasite varies throughout the world and it is beyond the scope of this book to describe them all. A detailed, illustrated description is given by Hofing and Kraus The parasites that affect domestic rabbits are described in detail by Owen This is the major reference source for the parasite section of this chapter.

Spilopsyllus cuniculi is a common flea that infests wild rabbits in Europe. It does not occur in the USA Kraus et al.

The fleas have a predilection for the ears, where they can be found in clusters along the edges of the pinnae. The fleas are mobile and move between the environment and the host. Wild rabbit fleas are not usually found on pet rabbits. Spilopsyllus cuniculi is a small flea whose life cycle is influenced by the reproductive status of the host. Egg maturation is dependent on female reproductive hormones.

Successful reproduction of the rabbit flea requires contact with a rabbit in late pregnancy or with a newborn nestling. Increased blood corticosteroid concentrations in late pregnancy attract fleas, which attach firmly to the doe to feed.

Within a few hours of parturition, fleas move from the doe to the newborn babies to feed, copulate and lay eggs in the nest. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on flea dirt deposited in the nest by the adult fleas feeding on the pregnant doe. In this way, fleas are spread from one generation to the next and are an important vector of disease, especially myxomatosis. Ctenocephalides canis or felis , the common cat and dog flea, is the usual flea found on pet rabbits.

Infestation results from rabbits living in a house inhabited by dogs and cats. Infestation causes intense pruritus and allergic dermatitis can develop. Fleas and flea dirt can be found on the rabbit by combing the coat with a fine-toothed comb.

Control of flea infestation is as for other species. Fipronil should not be used on rabbits; however, imidacloprid and selamectin are both safe and effective. All in-contact animals should be treated including other species , and environmental control should be implemented. Haemodipsus ventricosus is a sucking louse that affects wild rabbits and may act as a vector for myxomatosis. It is a large louse 1.

It is occasionally found on pet rabbits Owen, Psoroptes cuniculi is the common ear mite of rabbits that causes crusting and ulceration of the external ear canal. The mites are large and active and are just visible to the naked eye. They are surface dwellers that cause intense irritation when they are present in large numbers see Figure Occasionally they are found in other areas of the body such as the perineal skin folds see Section 7.

The rabbit ear mite, Psoroptes cuniculi , causes crusting and inflammation of the external ear canal, which often extends up the pinna see Figure 7. Lesions are sometimes found on other parts of the body such as the perineal skin folds. Mites can just be seen with the naked eye in exudate from the lesions. Large numbers of P. Cheyletiella parasitovorax is a fur-dwelling mite that can be found in large numbers in pet rabbits see Section 7. Areas of dense, flaky, encrusted skin are found along the back, especially above the tail base and on the neck.

The mites are easily identified by microscopic examination of skin brushings or pluckings see Figure Infestation with cheyletiella is often associated with obesity, spinal disorders or dental disease. Cheyletiella parasitovorax is zoonotic and can cause erythema and pruritus in man. Pruritic lesions are found on the forearm or neck of humansthat have handled infested rabbits.

This mite can be found in the fur of healthy rabbits. It is not always associated with skin lesions. In large numbers, C.

Heavy infestation is usually linked to some underlying problem with grooming, such as dental disease, obesity or spinal disorders. Mites may be seen moving among skin flakes that are combed out and placed under a bright light.

Cheyletiella parasitovorax can also be detected by combing out the flakes and applying acetate strips to the exposed underlying skin. The acetate strip is placed on a microscope slide and examined on low power.

In heavy infestations a variety of nymphal stages, eggs and adult mites are seen. Leporacarus gibbus formerly known as Listrophorus gibbus is the common fur mite of rabbits see Section 7. Infestation is normally asymptomatic and is not significant, except that large numbers can indicate some underlying disease. The mite is usually found attached to the hair shaft where it feeds on sebaceous gland secretions see Figure The mites are just visible to the naked eye especially on light-coloured rabbits when infestation gives the coat the appearance of being sprinkled with pepper.

This effect is more obvious when the coat is wet. Leporacarus gibbus can be found in the fur of many pet rabbits. Infestation is usually asymptomatic. Like C. The mite is just visible to the naked eye, especially in light-coloured rabbits. A simple method of detecting L. The contents of the bag are viewed microscopically under low power and the mites are seen moving along hair shafts.

Eggs and empty egg cases can be seen attached to hair shafts. Immature and adult mites are visible. There are morphological differences between male A and female mites B.

Notoedres and Sarcoptes have been described as causes of mange in rabbits. Mites are susceptible to a range of anti-parasitic medications: selamectin Stronghold, Pfizer moxidectin Advocate, Bayer and ivermectin many preparations. However, as many cases of mites, in particular Leporacarus and Cheyletiella , are due to inability to groom, a robust diagnostic work-up should be undertaken to look for foci of pain or inability to balance.

Cuterebra horripilum and Cuterebra buccata are warble flies that affect rabbits in the USA but do not occur in the UK. There is a range of nematodes that affect wild rabbits in various parts of the world. With the exception of Passalurus ambiguus , infestations in domestic rabbits are rare, especially in pets, and are unlikely to be encountered. Passalurus ambiguus is an oxyurid found in the caecum and large intestine.

Heavy infestations in young rabbits can be a contributory factor to the enteritis complex of diseases that occur around weaning see Section 8. The small, thread-like worm is seen in the faeces of affected animals. The life cycle is direct. Passalurus ambiguus is susceptible to most anthelmintics, e. Ivermectin is ineffective Morrisey, It is unlikely that P. Control strategies in the environment should include restricting access to potentially infected faeces, i.

There are other helminth parasites that principally affect wild rabbits and are not found in the domestic pet. They include Graphidium strigosum and Trichostrongylus retortaeformis Allan et al.

Obeliscoides cuniculi occurs in wild rabbits in various parts of the world and in domestic rabbits in the USA Hofing and Kraus, Clinically it causes haemorrhagic diarrhoea. Obeliscoides cuniculi has been used as a laboratory model of Trichostrongylus and Ostertagia species of ruminants. No species of trematode has been reported in rabbits Kraus et al.

The rabbit is the intermediate host for several tapeworms that affect dogs and cats. Pet rabbits that graze in gardens inhabited by pet dogs or visited by foxes can become infected. The incidence of these parasites is not high, as most pet owners now worm their dogs with preparations that are effective against tapeworms.

Cysticercus pisiformis is the larval stage of Taenia pisiformis , which is a tapeworm that affects dogs and foxes, with rabbits acting as the intermediate host. Tapeworm segments packed with eggs are shed in faeces and contaminate pasture. Grazing rabbits ingest eggs that pass into the small intestine where the oncosphere emerges and migrates to the peritoneal cavity via the liver. Multiple oval cysts are found in the mesentery see Figure The cysts contain the inverted scolex of the tapeworm.

Heavy infections cause abdominal discomfort and distension. In severe cases, they can cause intestinal obstruction. Migration through the liver results in the development of fibrous tracks and necrotic foci.

Multiple oval cysts are found in the mesentery. Some of the cysts found during an exploratory laparotomy of an anorexic rabbit showing signs of abdominal discomfort is shown.

The rabbit was a mature angora male that had recently been adopted by a rescue centre.

10 Common Rabbit Diseases, Illnesses, & Ailments (and How to Treat Them)

If you buy an item via links on this page, we may earn a commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by commissions. Read the full disclosure. Rabbits are one of the smallest yet steady meat sources you can have on a homestead. They also are a very healthy meat source as they are all white meat. The first time I came across ear mites I panicked.

Domestic rabbits are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases: parasitic, bacterial and viral. An overview of the commoner infections may be found in Table Wild rabbits are host to a variety of parasites that can be transmitted to domestic rabbits. The type and species of parasite varies throughout the world and it is beyond the scope of this book to describe them all. A detailed, illustrated description is given by Hofing and Kraus The parasites that affect domestic rabbits are described in detail by Owen

DOMESTIC. RABBITS. DISEASES AND. PARASITES. A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication Factors in disease prevention Treatment of snuffles has not.

Infectious Diseases of Domestic Rabbits

Pasteurellosis is common in domestic rabbits. It is highly contagious and transmitted primarily by direct contact, although aerosol transmission may also occur. The etiologic agent is Pasteurella multocida , a gram-negative, nonmotile coccobacillus.

In a well-managed rabbit unit, diseases should be infrequent. To avoid feed contamination, hutch floors should be made of wire-netting so that the urine and the droppings do not accumulate inside. Most affects the young rabbits.

Rabbits have been used extensively in a variety of biomedical research disciplines. The need for consistent research subjects has led to understanding of the basic biology and special needs of rabbits. This chapter will provide a summary of care, management, and diseases of the laboratory rabbit. It is ironic that while effort is given to promote the health of domestic rabbits, feral populations have the ability to explode to plague proportions in areas of the world where natural predators and diseases are limited. In , the rabbit population of Australia was estimated at 20 million.


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